Everett Earthworks Sculptural Garden

Art, Environmental and Public Health Initiative

Overview:

Everett Earthworks creates a new space for the community to gather, grow food, and celebrate artistic expression. A sculptural bench is the centerpiece of the design, with sculptural mural panels created by Everett high school students on the garden shed, and a collaborative mural inspired by the Community Food Assessment on the fence as a backdrop to the garden. The central sculptural bench represents a drop of water hitting the surface of water and bouncing up, and paths and hugelkultur garden beds ripple outwards in concentric circles. This demonstration project for community-engaged public art and urban agriculture promotes innovative thinking with regards to beautification, growing food, improving health and building community.

Context:

This new garden helps advance the City of Everett?s 2017 Open Space and Recreation Plan (OSRP) update, which was prepared by MAPC?s Land Use Planning staff, as well as the Community Food Assessment that the Public Health team worked with Everett Community Growers. It is located adjacent to a rail trail that was opened in August 2013 as paved path along the Malden River. The final section of the Bike to the Sea Trail, of which this Northern Strand Community Trail section is a part, is slated for completion in 2019.

This project aims to advance a number of public health, community building, and environmental goals. The following list of intended impacts was identified in a community design meeting with gardeners in the Everett Community Growers group.

  • Community Learning. Promoting community resilience through stronger connections, where community members teach and learn new skills from one another and where teachers at the nearby school have the opportunity to create lessons and teach students about this garden.
  • Fostering Beauty: Creating beautiful gardens would enhance the community and help people connect with nature.
  • Creating Space for Healing: People with disabilities or everyday people with stress can come and have a place with peace.
  • Improving sense of personal well-being: Promoting an active lifestyle and eating healthy, and supported mental health.
  • Community Ownership: Claiming public land that is underutilized.
  • Equity: Creating a space where it?s possible to lift up voices of power of all Everett residents.

Primary Partners:

This project is a collaboration between the City of Everett, Everett Community Growers (ECG), and the Arts & Culture, Environment, and Public Health teams at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, with support from the UMass Boston School for the Environment. Working with the City of Everett and Everett Community Growers, MAPC created a plan and design for the garden and sculpture with community input, city support and volunteers.

Funding:

This project was made possible with funding provided by the Barr Foundation and in-kind support from the City of Everett Departments of Planning and Community Development, Facilities, and Public Works.

Process

The MAPC Artist in Residence, Carolyn Lewenberg was given the opportunity to pitch a project that drew on her strengths, interests, and promoted the values the Arts and Culture team had developed. Everett emerged as a strong site due to the cultural and economic diversity, demonstrated interest in adding more spaces for community gardening, and the City?s interest in incorporating more public art into the fabric of the city. Everett Community Growers, a key partner in the project and the local membership organization working to improve health outcomes and increase civic and community engagement through urban agriculture and other food justice initiatives was already working with MAPC?s Public Health team and The City of Everett on a Community Food Assessment. The relationships were already in motion that this project could develop further. The Land Use team was also working on an Open Space and Recreation Plan, so Lewenberg was also able to build on relationships from this project. She went to a community event with the Land Use planners to get to know the community better and to get feedback on initial design ideas.

After getting initial community feedback, Lewenberg worked with the City Planning staff to develop a scope of work and develop the project further. Everett Community Growers helped convene two community meetings to discuss the design and anticipated community benefits to the project. National Grid, which operates a buried electrical conduit that runs through the site, was consulted and the project was adjusted so the major structural elements and hugelkultur mounds were placed outside the buffer zone. In-Kind support from the City?s Facilities and Department of Public Works as well as volunteers from a city sponsored Spring Clean-Up day were critical elements in implementing the design.

Successes

  • Equity: Creating a space where it?s possible to lift up voices of power of all Everett residents.
  • Fostering Beauty: Creating beautiful gardens enhance the community and offer people an opportunity to connect with nature.
  • Community Ownership: Claiming public land that is underutilized.
  • Improving sense of personal well-being: Creating a space that promotes an active lifestyle and eating healthy.
  • Increased Civic Engagement: Garden provides a gathering space where people can come together. New relationships are forming as a result of this garden
  • Access to land: Thinking about utility corridors as recreational corridors and working collaboratively to transform these spaces for public use creates new recreational opportunities to build public health.
  • Cross-generational and Cultural Integration: People of all ages and cultural groups have equal access to the garden and opportunities to learn from each other to care for the garden
  • Creativity and Innovation: This is a public place with visual interest and where creative expression of community members is encouraged
  • Catalytic Change: This project is the first piece of public art along the Bike to the Sea Trail, and has inspired the neighboring community of Malden to work with the City of Everett to convert the path into the Artline, an outdoor sculpture park which can contribute to the beautification and remediation of the land along the Malden River.

Learn more (links to other relevant web pages if there are any)

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